COVID-19 Testing for the Hourly Workforce

August 7, 2020 - minute read

Workforce management practices, technology, and compliance parameters have all seen major changes in 2020 thanks to COVID-19. In particular, hourly workforce employers have had to learn and adopt new processes for containing the virus and protecting employees as an ongoing priority. Amidst changing information and conflicting views, however, there remain many unanswered questions: especially around testing for COVID-19.

Should employers conduct regular testing? Who should get tested to remain the most effective? Luckily, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other organizations have continued to simplify these decisions and provide feedback on these questions.

The latest update from the CDC maintains that testing is the most appropriate approach to preventing COVID-19. For many companies facing moderate to severe transmission between workers and sites where employees are in close contact with others it is often worth it to test your employees. It helps limit the spread of the virus and limit workforce management issues through early prevention.

Let’s discuss who you should be testing, some approaches for testing, and how technology can help you limit the spread of infection amongst your hourly employees!

Who Should You Be Testing?

Due to costs and logistical concerns, only 3% of employers say that they plan to test for the virus in regular screenings. As a result, the CDC has recommended that employers focus on symptomatic and quarantined employees as a priority (those who are known virus contacts) and provide quick and reliable testing plans.

That’s easier said than done when you have an hourly, distributed workforce to test. On top of needing to identify the appropriate situations for testing, collecting the data itself can become an extremely inefficient process without the right technology in place.

To reiterate, it is recommended that you test for each of the following situations:

  • Employees who show symptoms. If an employee’s temperature check registers a fever or other sign of COVID-19, the employee should be isolated from others and be tested for the coronavirus immediately. Any employee who might have been infected by that person should also be sent home pending the test results of the original “contact.”
  • Employees who have experienced verifiable exposure to the virus. If an employee has been exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case, they should be quarantined and tested as quickly as possible. Testing should be done several days after exposure because the virus might not be detected otherwise, according to the CDC.
    ebook - COVID handbook sample
  • Worksites that require regular testing. Depending on your state or industry, you may be legally required to test employees each shift or at regular intervals. If you are considering a mass testing approach, especially if a large proportion of your employees aren’t showing symptoms, establish a plan for how you will compliantly respond to certain test results.
  • Recovered employees who are ready to return to work. Employers can ask once-infected employees to test before returning to work, but tests may continue to find traces of the virus even after the person has made a full recovery. For this reason, the CDC recommends a time-based approach to ending quarantine (14 days from exposure) over a generalized testing requirement.
  • To evaluate protective measures and transmission at worksites. Testing to evaluate the effectiveness of your protective measures or find transmission hot spots at work sites can make a huge difference if you aren’t sure about the success of your established preventative practices.

Based on these testing recommendations, it’s clear that hourly workforce employers need to be able to not only plan for effective testing but effective communication as well. For more information on the ADA and EEOC guidelines for testing, click here.

Get the Data You Need with Dynamic Punch Questions

In order to appropriately test you need to establish a relationship with a local testing site and find a way to communicate with employees consistently about their symptoms no matter where they are located.

For mobilized or distributed labor, that means adopting technological solutions which can regularly track employees’ temperature checks results, establish whether or not they’ve knowingly come in contact with COVID-19, and address other risk factors directly.

EPAY’s workforce management system and Dynamic Punch Questions enable you to ask questions during employees’ punch in/punch out times each day to actively manage COVID risks within your workforce. This allows you to forego the need to conduct mass viral testing on a regular basis, while still monitoring for the virus amongst your various work sites, manufacturing plants, etc.

When an employee punches in or punches out at the end of the day, a short questionnaire on a variety of COVID-related questions will help you know exactly which individuals and risks need to be addressed. Check out our two-minute overview, and request demo today!

Filed Under: Workforce Management COVID-19